From the Executive Director
GMO Labeling, What is Industrial Food? Who Controls it? And Why Food?
"We the People of the United States, ..." is the way the US Constitution begins, giving we the people sovereignty over our affairs.
I was on a panel
with advocates of labeling foods that contain genetically engineered organisms recently.
Former Congressman Rob Simmons spoke first and mentioned that sovereignty expressed in the Constitution as one reason people have a right to know what is in their food.
Sovereignty is important for the "right to know" what is in our food, but it also may be the key concept as we work for a healthy food system. Who has sovereignty? We the people or Big Food and Ag, that is the Industrial Food System?
GMO Labeling in Connecticut
The work to get labeling for foods that contain GMOs is in full swing in Connecticut.
There will be two bills in the Connecticut legislature this year. One, introduced by Representative Diane Urban, will require labeling of GMOs in infant formula and maybe other baby food. The other, introduced by Representative Phil Miller, will be a broader bill requiring GMOs to be labeled in most foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. It will be introduced in the public health committee, which is where this issue belongs.
One of the things that came out of last year's work is that we should assume that any food that contains corn, soy, cotton, canola or sugar contains GMOs unless it is certified organic or is NonGMO verified. Jeffrey Smith's Institute for Responsible Technology
is a good source of information about the health effects of GMOs. You can see the impressive movie, Genetic Roulette
, for free until February 10.
Unfortunately, GMO Sweet Corn
is on the market. It is designed for large applications of Roundup and is registered as a pesticide since it has Bt in every cell.
There is a growing coalition of people working on this issue. The real energy and heart on our side comes from moms who have studied nutrition and health and care about what they feed their children. See one of the moms in this video clip
. Consult the Non-GMO Shopping Guide
for healthier eating.
If you are interested in seeing GMO labeling passed here, and our state has a chance to be the first in the nation, YOU need to be involved. At minimum, talk to your state representative and senator and educate them about the issue and let them know how you feel. Talk to your friends and ask them to do the same.
You can attend the press conference on February 7 at 11 in room 1-D in the Legislative Office Building. There will be other opportunities for rallies, testimony and outreach as the legislative session moves on. Almost every week, Genetic Roulette is shown somewhere in Connecticut. Sign up for our GMO email list on our homepage
CT NOFA and Organic Land Care Events
CT NOFA 31 Annual Winter Conference
Saturday, March 2, 2013
Wilton High School
395 Danbury Road
8:30 am to 5:00 pm
Growing Together Since 1982!
The 2013 Winter Conference will feature over 50 workshops for homeowners, farmers, cooks, students, environmentalists and activists. Beginners can learn the basics of how to start a garden or keep backyard chickens while experts can attend technical workshops about growing fruit trees and soil biology. Food lovers can explore adventurous foods (like wild edible plants and mushrooms), healthy foods (with workshops about GMO-free purchasing and intestinal health) and new recipes. Refer to the complete list of workshops here
to check if any of the 2013 workshops can teach you something to improve your health, garden, or ecological footprint!
The 2013 Winter Conference's theme is adjusting to climate change on the farm, in the garden, and at home. To discuss climate resilient farming and land management, the keynote speaker is David W. Wolfe Ph.D., the Faculty Fellow and Chair of the Climate Change Focus Group, Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and Professor of Plant and Soil Ecology, Department of Horticulture at Cornell University.
Everyone will also enjoy access to 60 vendors and exhibitors, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Fair, silent auction, and a lunch provided by seven of Fairfield County's favorite restaurants. Young children can stay with a guardian in the Family Play Area where they can read or enjoy music, story time, and children's workshops. The CT NOFA Annual Meeting will take place immediately before the keynote address.
Register before 2/16/13 to save!
Learn more and register here.
Interested in sponsoring? Click here
to learn more and sign up.
Interested in donating to the silent auction? Learn more here.
Check out this video
about how to avoid eating GMOs featuring workshop presenter Beth Beisel.
CT NOFA CSA Fairs
- March 2, 2013: The Winter Conference, Wilton, CT
- March 7, 2013: Billings Forge Farmers Market, Hartford, CT
- March 10, 2013: Fiddleheads Food Coop, New London, CT
Come to a CSA fair to talk to CSA farmers and ask about their produce, CSA-model, prices, and other details. Farmers with CSAs are asked to fill out this survey to help us track where CSAs are located, ,what seasons the CSAs are available and other information valuable for our targeted programming. Funding for CT NOFA's CSA Program has been provided by the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program of the Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA awarded by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture.
Learn more about the CSA model and register here.
Want to sign up as a farmer with a CSA program? You can here
Organic Land Care Program Events
TEDx Manhattan: Changing the Way We Eat
February 16, 2013
New York City and Live Online
This event is sold out in New York, but you can watch it live online here
on Saturday, February 16th, from 10:30am - 6:00pm est. Learn more about the program here.Connecticut Flower and Garden Show
February 21 - 24, 2013
CT Convention Center
Come check out CT NOFA's booth! The Convention Center will be transformed into a breathtaking event for floral and garden enthusiasts. Learn more here
. Interested in volunteering? CT NOFA needs more volunteers for Thursday and Friday during the event. Contact Melissa Gabso
to learn more.JUST FOOD: Local Conference for Food Justice and Sustainability
Friday, Feb. 22, 6:00pm-10:00pm
Saturday, Feb. 23, 8:30am-1:30pm
Yale Divinity School
New Haven, CT 06511
This conference initiative will address local food justice and sustainability through Yale University and Greater-New Haven communities. Our Executive Director, Bill Duesing, will be on the panel Saturday morning. Learn more here
Harvest New England Agricultural Marketing Conference & Trade Show
Saturday, February 23, 2013, 9:00am-1:00pm
Manchester Community College
Attention Connecticut farmers, producers, chefs, and foodservice buyers! Come meet, greet, and make a deal! This is a chance for chefs and purchasing agents to not only meet and get to know local farmers, but also place orders for the 2013 season of fresh Connecticut Grown products. Each farm will be provided space to set up a table display with information about its crop plans, product lines, and wholesale price lists for the upcoming season. Producers will be grouped by category. Learn more here. If you want additional ways to connect CT farmers to chefs, you can also check out Connecticut Farm to Chef, an online marketplace connecting farmers and foodservice buyers.
Making "Cents" in Today's Marketplace
February 27 & 28 2013
This conference draws hundreds of farmers and farm industry members. Attendees will find 26 workshops on topics such as marketing, agri-tourism, social media, financing and more. There will be a panel discussion with the agricultural chiefs from each of the New England states. A New England Farmers Market managers Workshop will also be held in conjunction with the conference. Learn more and register here
Film Screening: Jeffrey M. Smith's "Genetic Roulette"
3040 Whitney Ave.
Thursday, March 7th at 7pm
2013-14 Farm and Food Guide Farm/Business Listings
It's not too late to get your listing into the 2013-14 Farm and Food Guide! If you're a member, own a farm or supporting business, and don't have a listing or would like one, or if you have any questions about listings in the Farm and Food Guide, contact Debbie. Getting a listing in the Guide gives you exposure to thousands of sustainably-minded individuals in the region, and is a part of being a CT NOFA Business Member. Don't miss out on this opportunity to let your business be seen! You can view a PDF of the 2012-13 Farm and Food Guide here.
CCC Farm Stand is open year round and offers only Connecticut grown and manufactured products. Open Monday-Friday 8:00am - 6:00pm, and Saturday 8:00am - 3:00pm. Currently the farm stand is home to about 30 farmers selling products such as vegetables, fruits, dairy products, meat products, baked goods, canned goods, and specialty items like wool, jewelry, bath products, seasonal products, and hand crafted goods. The stand holds numerous events throughout the year where customers can stop by to meet the farmer and learn how the products are made and grown.
The Farm Stand is located at 35Oakland St. in Manchester, CT. You can check them out online here, or give them a call at (860) 647-9384. What a great way to shop local all year long!
Want to Get More Involved with CT NOFA?
CT NOFA Board Members Sought!
CT NOFA is looking for board members with Fundraising, Legal and/or Volunteer Coordination Experience.
The Board member will:
- Attend in-person meetings approximately every other month
- Participate in conference call meetings on the alternate month
- Participate in or lead the appropriate committee of the Board, with separate committee meetings
- Attend CT NOFA events, have fun, eat great food and advocate for local, organic food and organic land care
Please contact John Turenne, Vice-President of the CT NOFA Board. You can learn more about the current CT NOFA board here.
Announcements & Alerts
New Organic Gardening Class Series:
Preparing Your Garden for Spring
Gideon Welles School
Saturday, Feb 9th
10:30am - noon
Bettylou Sandy, Garden Consultant and MCC Instructor
All You Ever Wanted to Know About Seeds
Wind Hill Farm
Sunday, Mar 3
2:00 to 3:30pm
Randel Agrella, Comstock, Ferre, Inc.
For more info and to register click here.
New Rain Garden Smart Phone App and Explanatory Webinar
Wednesday February 20, 2013
2:00 - 3:00 PM
The app and website are aimed at homeowners, landscape professionals, municipal staff, or others who are interested in properly installing one or more rain gardens. This webinar will provide a live demonstration of the dynamic features of the app, which include a searchable plant database and tools that help site, size and install your rain garden properly. Download the app here
and register for the webinar here
Submit Info Now For DOAG CT Grown Brochures and Website Listings
The Connecticut Department of Agriculture offers a variety of online listings on the Publications page of its website
. Connecticut producers interested in participating must complete and return an application (available here
) for each applicable listing. There is no fee or application deadline for inclusion on the website. Printed brochures will be produced as funding permits. To be included in this year's printed farmers' market brochure, information must be submitted by March 15, 2013. Applications must be submitted by March 22, 2013, to be included in the printed pick-your-own brochure. Neither has a listing fee. Applications can be submitted by email
, by fax to 860-713-2516, or via mail to the following address: Brochure Program Connecticut Department of Agriculture, Marketing Unit 165 Capitol Avenue, Room 129 Hartford, CT 06106. For more information, please call 860-713-2503 or email us
NOFA Member Farmer Survey - Let your voice be heard on issues you care about!
This survey is being distributed to the farmer-members of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA), covering 7 states in the northeast with the addition of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA). The original idea and identification of need for the survey generated in the Labor and Trade Working Group of the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG), of which NOFA is a member. We are doing a study about issues that affect farmers and farmworkers on organic farms in the Northeast. If you are a member farmer of any NOFA chapter or MOFGA, you can contribute! Learm more and fill out the questionnaire here.
Microloans Now Available for Young and Beginning Farmers
These new microloans will be funded through the Farm Service Agency's (FSA) existing Direct Operating Loan program, and will have a maximum loan amount of $35,000, which is much lower than the $300,000 loan cap for regular FSA farm operating loans. These smaller loans are intended to cover smaller purchases, such as seeds, animals, small equipment, or other investments that young and other beginning farmers require to finance their operations. Learn more here.
New CT Food System Leader Listserv Available
This listserv is open to anyone and will contain information related to COnnecticut food systems. Learn more and subscribe here.
New Proposed Federal Food Safety Regulations - Farmers and On-Farm Processors Give Feedback
In early January, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released proposed new food safety regulations of great significance to the sustainable agriculture community. These regulations are the first major revision to U.S. food safety rules in decades, and they could substantially impact producers and on-farm processors nationwide. Before FDA can finalize the proposed rules, however, the agency must seek input from the public. Comments from farmers and on-farm processors will directly shape the final rules and are critical to ensuring that the final rules work for small and mid-sized farmers, sustainable and organic growers, value-added businesses, and conservation systems. Learn more and share your thoughts here.
Free Pollinator Planting Guides
Invite pollinators to your neighborhood by planting a pollinator friendly habitat in your garden, farm, school, park or just about anywhere! Learn more here. To learn more about why planting for pollinators is important, click here.
Updated Seedling List Available from Member Farm Hidden Brook Gardens
Order your Certified Organic seedlings from Hidden Brook Gardens here. Check out our website as spring nears for a list of organic seedling suppliers, or check last year's list for the names of suppliers in the area.
In the News
Guidebooks Summarize Updated Organic Regulations
Recent reports of secret meetings among industry reps and the Food and Drug Adminstration over GMO labeling piqued my interest, mostly because this critical aspect was missing: any effort to label GE foods at the federal level could bring the current grassroots movement to a grinding halt by preventing any stronger local laws from ever being enacted. More>
When farmers choose to go organic, the certification process can be challenging. The same goes for livestock producers and processors. To help them through, whether they are new farmers or experienced in conventional agricultural production, the National Center for Appropriate Technology, in partnership with the National Organic Program, has developed a series of guides available online. The four guides can be downloaded for free or ordered as paper publications at the website attra.ncat.org. More>
Worms Produce Another Kind of Gold for Growers
Under rows of old chicken sheds, Jack Chambers has built an empire of huge metal boxes filled with cattle manure and millions of wriggling red worms. "My buddies all had planes and boats," said Mr. Chambers, 60, a former airline pilot. "I have a worm farm." More>
Bridgeport Parcel Becoming Community Garden
A 1.5-acre parcel in the city's South End will soon be transformed into a community garden. The vacant lot at 77-127 Garden St., behind the parking lots for the Homes for the Brave and Mercy Learning Center
on Park Avenue, will be turned into a park and community garden using a $171,500 Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition grant. More> The Best & Worst Ways to Cook Your Vegetables
Think a raw-veggie diet is the best way to go for optimal nutrition? Think again. Cooking vegetables helps to soften their tough fibrous exteriors and loosen up all the nutritional good stuff that lies inside. In fact, some vegetables, such as tomatoes, are actually more healthful if you eat them cooked, because the process of cooking them boosts their levels of the potent antioxidant lycopene. The only problem is, not all cooking methods are the same. More>Organic farmers push for day in court against Monsanto
Seed farmers came before a U.S. federal court of appeals in Washington, D.C., Thursday, Jan. 10 in a case that could have major implications for how growers interact with agriculture company Monsanto. Read more here
. CT NOFA is one of the plaintiffs in this case. You can read the transcript of the oral argument from January 10 here
From our Blog
A Full House at the Getting Started in Organic Farming Conference
Last Saturday, January 26, 2013, CT NOFA held it's annual Getting Started in Organic Farming Coneference
at Goodwin College in East Hartford. Despite a winter storm that inundated much of the mid-Atlantic states, we had sunny, albeit cold, weather up in Connecticut on the day of the event. This was the first time the conference has been held at Goodwin, and we couldn't have been happier with how the day turned out. More>
If you would like to review some of the presentations from the event, check out the powerpoints here
.2012 Hottest Year on Record for United States
1998 was the last year that a heat record was broken, and like most records they are usually measured in a fraction of a degree. The 2012 record however was set by an increase in a full degree Fahrenheit taking the average temperature for the lower 48 states to an alarming 55.3 degrees Fahrenheit. New records were also set across the country with 34,008 daily high records compared to only 6,664 record lows set. All 48 states had above average temperatures; 19 states had their warmest year on record and 26 had one of their top ten warmest years on record. More>
Love our blog? Want a chance to get more involved?
For the first time ever, we are now accepting guest articles to feature on our blog. If you have expertise and passion for organic and sustainable food issues, and experience with writing either on a blog or in another journalistic outlet, you can become a guest blogger for CT NOFA! Interested? Send us an email detailing your relevant experience with writing and sustainable food and, if our needs match, we'll set you up as either a one-time blogger, or a scheduled guest writer.
|Go Organic when you Shop!
Sign up for a NOFA credit card through Capital One to support NOFA's important policy work to build a strong, regional organic food system. It's easy! Just shop for things you buy every day and NOFA gets a $50 donation upon first use and at least 1% of all purchases.
|If you have any stories, articles, notices, or suggestions for this newsletter, please send them along. Please also note that classifieds and community notices are maintained on our community board. If you have a notice you'd like to add, send it along to the office here.|